MANILA, Philippines -- Kiefer Ravena feels that he came up short as captain of the Gilas Pilipinas national team after a disappointing performance in the 2022 FIBA Asia Cup.
Tasked to lead a youthful group that included amateur standouts, Ravena averaged 10 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in the tournament. But Gilas Pilipinas struggled in the continental competition, and a huge 102-81 defeat to Japan knocked them out of contention for a spot in the quarterfinals.
It's the first time since 2007 that the Philippines failed to advance to the last eight of the FIBA Asia Cup.
"First of all, I felt like I let the team down, not being the leader that they expected," admitted Ravena, one of a handful of professionals to suit up for the national team in the tournament.
"Maraming pagkukulang, a lot of shortcomings in being a leader," he added. "But it comes with experience as well. I'm still learning from them."
Ravena pointed out that the FIBA Asia Cup is a new experience for all of them. Though some -- including Ravena himself -- have played abroad professionally, the continental championship is still a different level that they have to navigate.
The Philippines won just once in the FIBA Asia Cup — a 101-59 rout of India. They showed some promise in a 95-80 defeat to Lebanon, but suffered big losses against New Zealand and Japan.
The early exit from the FIBA Asia Cup is the latest in a series of poor results for the national team, which includes a silver medal finish in the 31st Southeast Asian Games -- a tournament they have dominated for over three decades.
For Ravena, the tough games and painful losses should serve as motivation for the young Gilas group, especially with some of them set to take the next steps in their basketball careers.
"I'm not here to make excuses, but I told them that this is for the long haul," said Ravena. "Whether we play in the B.League, the PBA, or the KBL, this is something that we have to embrace and take into heart, take it personally."
"What happened here can make us better," he stressed.
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes has already apologized for the latest setback, and stressed that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has a plan in place for the national team as they inch closer to FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023.
"We already have a plan in place for the next window. I can't divulge it here but we already have a plan until August next year. We just have to execute. As I said, we are operating in very difficult circumstances and a lot of restrictions. But we are making do with what we have. In the end, that's all we can do right?" said Reyes.